COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Last updated on September 6, 2022.

Available languages: Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली 

#FFFFFF

Have a question about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Choose a category below to find the answer.
#FFFFFF


 

Top 10 most frequently asked questions

#FFFFFF
#1 Where can I get the vaccine? 
  • There are hundreds of vaccine providers throughout the state. Here are some ways to find a vaccine provider near you: 

 

#2 How do we know that the vaccines are safe?
  • All authorized COVID-19 vaccines are going through the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. 
  • Hundreds of millions of people in the United States have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Tens of thousands of people volunteered to help test the vaccines in clinical trials. These clinical trials showed that the vaccines are safe and work well. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality.
  • Learn more about vaccine safety.

 

#3 Do I still need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
  • We recommend wearing a mask in public indoor spaces if you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Wearing a mask reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission for everyone, even people who are up to date on vaccines. CDC recommends wearing a mask when there is high community COVID-19 transmission in your area. People who are at higher risk of severe illness may also wish to wear a mask to lower their risk of getting sick.
  • Masks are required in certain public indoor spaces, even for vaccinated people. Learn more about where you need to wear a mask in Colorado on CDPHE’s mask guidance webpage.

 

#4 Can I get an omicron dose?
  • Anyone aged 12 years and older who has completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines can receive an omicron dose. 

  • A primary series usually means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. People who are immunocompromised may receive up to three doses in their primary series. 

    • Coloradans can self-attest to the completion of their primary series. No ID, insurance, or proof of previous vaccination is needed to receive an omicron dose.

  • Pfizer’s omicron dose is authorized for people aged 12 years and older, while Moderna’s omicron dose is authorized for people aged 18 years and older.

  • People who previously received booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines should also receive an omicron dose. It doesn’t matter how many booster doses you already received. 

  • You should get your omicron dose at least two months after completing your primary series or receiving your most recent dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you recently had COVID-19, you may wait up to three months after you tested positive or first started feeling symptoms to schedule your omicron dose.

  • Find out where to get an omicron dose.

 

#5 Is it safe to get the vaccine if I am pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy?
  • Yes. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your baby during the pandemic.
  • Pregnant people are more likely to get very sick if they become infected with COVID-19. Getting sick with COVID-19 can lead to serious pregnancy complications, including complications that can result in death.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people and people who are trying to become pregnant. The vaccines help keep you from getting sick. They won’t harm your baby or make it harder for you to get pregnant.
  • Learn more about vaccines and pregnancy at the CDC’s website.
     
#6 Is the vaccine free?
  • Yes, the vaccine is free. Providers should not ask you to pay for the vaccine or other administrative costs, even if you don’t have health insurance. 
  • If you do have insurance, your provider may seek reimbursement from your health insurance company, but you should not be charged. 
  • In the unlikely event that your provider requires payment for your vaccine appointment, you should ask questions about what you are being charged for and why. You should ask for an itemized bill or receipt from the provider and then seek reimbursement from your insurance company if you have one.
  • If a vaccine provider is making you pay, you can report them by filling out the following form: covid19.colorado.gov/VaccineConcerns. You can also call 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Multiple languages are available. The call center will be closed on Nov. 25, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1 for the holidays.
  • If you have problems with your insurance company, you can contact the Division of Insurance by phone at 303-894-7490 or by email at DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
  • If someone is making you pay for a vaccine or a vaccine appointment, it may be a scam. You can report potential vaccine scams to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at stopfraudcolorado.gov.
  • Learn more about getting the vaccine in this FAQ. 

 

#7 Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to get a vaccine? 
  • No. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen, and you will not need to prove lawful presence to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado. 
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced that vaccination sites will be considered sensitive locations. This means that ICE will not carry out enforcement activities at or near vaccination sites.
  • State and local public health agencies will never share your information for any immigration or law enforcement purposes. And receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not count against you in any public charge determinations.
  • If a vaccine provider is making you show identification, you can report them by filling out the following form: covid19.colorado.gov/VaccineConcerns. You can also call 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Multiple languages are available. The call center will be closed on Nov. 25, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1 for the holidays.
  • Learn more about getting the vaccine in this FAQ. 

 

#8 How were the omicron vaccines developed so quickly? 
  • Just like the virus has evolved, so has the vaccine. It is common practice to adapt vaccines to target new strains of a virus, as we do every year with the flu vaccine. 

  • The FDA worked closely with the vaccine manufacturers to ensure the development of these updated boosters was done safely and efficiently.

  • The omicron doses run on the same trusted technology as the original formulations of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. 

  • Similar to the yearly flu vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna’s omicron doses were updated to target the strain of COVID-19 that is currently circulating in the United States.

  • Updating an existing vaccine takes much less time than developing a new vaccine. Scientists already knew a lot about how mRNA vaccines work in the real world, and could apply that knowledge to making vaccines that better protect against the current variant.

 

#9 Can children get a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Yes, children as young as 6 months old can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • For more information about vaccines for children, including where to find an age-appropriate vaccine for your child, visit CDPHE’s Vaccines for children and teens webpage.

 

#10 What should I do if I lose my vaccine card?
#FFFFFF


 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine

#FFFFFF
What types of COVID-19 vaccines are available? 
  • Four COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized or approved in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. 
  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available for people aged 6 months and older. The Novavax vaccine is available for people aged 12 years and older. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available for some adults age 18 and older.
  • Most people should get the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccines. As of May 5, 2022, the J&J vaccine is only authorized for some people: people who can’t get another vaccine for medical or accessibility reasons, and people who choose to get J&J because they otherwise would remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. Data shows that Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax’s vaccines are safer than the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for people aged 12 and older and the Moderna vaccine is fully approved for adults aged 18 and older, but children aged 6 months to 15 years can still receive the vaccines under emergency use authorizations.
  • Once vaccines are approved by the FDA, companies can market the vaccines under brand names. The brand name of the Pfizer vaccine is Comirnaty, and the brand name of the Moderna vaccine is Spikevax.
  • The FDA has also authorized the Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines for emergency use.
  • CDC has detailed information about each vaccine on their Different COVID-19 Vaccines page.  
 
How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine do I need?
  • Everyone needs at least two doses of the vaccine. The exact number depends on what type of vaccine you get, your age, and whether or not you are immunocompromised. Find out how many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine you or your child are recommended to receive using our vaccine dose calculator, or learn more below.

  • Everyone aged 6 months and older should complete a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.

    • For children aged 6 months through 4 years who get Pfizer, a primary series is three doses.

    • For most people aged 5 years and older who get Pfizer, a primary series is two doses. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get three doses in their primary series.

    • For most people aged 6 months and older who get Moderna, a primary series is two doses. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get three doses in their primary series.

    • For people aged 12 years and older who get Novavax, a primary series is two doses.

    • For most people aged 18 years and older who get Johnson & Johnson, a primary series is one dose. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should also get a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in their primary series.

  • Children aged 5 through 11 years who get Pfizer should also receive a third dose of the same type of vaccine at least five months after finishing their primary series.

  • Everyone aged 12 years and older should also receive an omicron dose after completing their primary series.

    • You can get an omicron dose at least two months after you complete your primary series.

    • If you received booster doses after finishing your primary series, you can get an omicron dose at least two months after your most recent booster dose. It doesn’t matter how many booster doses you already received.

 

Do all my vaccine doses need to be the same kind of vaccine as my primary series?
  • It depends on your age and which vaccine you first received.
  • If you’re 12 years or older, you should now receive an omicron dose at least two months after you completed your primary series or received your most recent booster dose. Pfizer and Moderna’s omicron doses specifically target the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, which is the predominant variant in the United States right now.
  • Children aged 5 through 11 years who received a Pfizer primary series can only receive the original formulation of the Pfizer vaccine for their third and fourth doses at this time.
    • Children aged 6 months through 4 years can only receive primary series vaccines at this time. Booster doses have not yet been authorized for this age group.
    • While the Moderna vaccine has been authorized for children aged 6 months through 17 years, it cannot be given as a booster dose for this age group at this time.
  • If you started with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, CDC recommends that you get a different vaccine for your second dose. You should get a dose of either Pfizer or Moderna's omicron vaccine at least two months after you first got vaccinated.
    • Some people can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their second (booster) dose: people who can’t get Pfizer or Moderna for medical or accessibility reasons, or people who choose Johnson & Johnson because they otherwise would remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Why do I need  another vaccine dose if I have already completed my primary series?
  • Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines give you the highest level of protection from severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Vaccine effectiveness varies by vaccine type and can drop over time. Getting all recommended doses helps make sure you stay protected after a certain amount of time has passed since you first got vaccinated. Other routine vaccines also require multiple doses to work well.
  • Just like the virus has evolved, so has the vaccine. All viruses mutate over time, including COVID-19. The spikes that cover the COVID-19 virus have changed since the original COVID-19 vaccines became available. These spikes were the original target of the COVID-19 vaccines, which is one reason why immunity from the original vaccines has decreased. 
  • Getting the updated omicron vaccine gives targeted protection from the COVID-19 variants circulating right now. Pfizer and Moderna’s updated omicron doses teach your body to make both the original spike proteins and spike proteins that cover the omicron variant of the virus. That way, your immune system gets to practice fighting both.

 

Where can I get a third, fourth, or fifth (booster) dose?
  • You can get any dose of the vaccine at any vaccine provider. No ID, insurance, or proof of medical history is required. All doses of the vaccine are free. 

 

Can I get a third/booster dose if I was first vaccinated outside of the United States?
  • Yes. If you are 5 years old or older and:

  • You can get a another dose in Colorado.

  • Children aged 5 to 11 years old should receive the original pediatric formulation of Pfizer for their third dose at least five months after completing their primary series.

  • Anyone aged 12 years or older should receive an omicron dose at least two months after completing their primary series or receiving their most recent booster dose.

Should I get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19?
  • Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, even if you’ve already had COVID-19.

  • While recovering from COVID-19 may give you natural immunity to the virus, the immunity might not last more than a few months. It’s possible to get COVID-19 again even if you have already recovered from the illness. You should plan to get vaccinated with all recommended doses to make sure you have the best possible protection from COVID-19.

  • Data show that people who previously had COVID-19 and also got vaccinated were better protected from hospitalization than people who only had immunity from a previous infection.

  • You can get a vaccine as soon as you feel better and have completed your isolation period.  You may consider waiting three months after your infection before receiving a vaccine.

 

Should I get vaccinated if I recently received antibody treatment for COVID-19?
  • Yes, but you should wait a certain amount of time after getting treatment. Waiting will help make sure that the vaccine builds enough immunity.

  • If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for post-exposure prophylaxis, you should wait at least 30 days before getting vaccinated.

  • If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma while you were sick with COVID-19, you should wait at least 90 days before getting vaccinated.

 

Is it safe to take my prescription medications on the same day I get vaccinated? 
  • Yes, it is fine to take all prescription drugs as usual. 

 

Should I take over-the-counter medication like Tylenol or Advil before getting vaccinated to help with the side effects? 
  • Avoid taking over-the-counter pain or fever medications before getting vaccinated. There is a theoretical possibility that doing so might reduce vaccine effectiveness. 
  • If it is normally safe for you to do so, you can take over-the-counter pain or fever medication after you receive the vaccine and once you start to feel side effects.  

 

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?
  • Yes. COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be given at the same time, if needed, or close together. 
  • Your doctor may consider the types of vaccine, whether you are behind on recommended vaccines, and what kind of side effects the vaccines may have before deciding whether or not to give them together. Talk to your doctor about additional concerns you might have about getting more than one vaccine at the same time. 

 

Can I get the vaccine at my doctor’s office or local pharmacy? 

 

I need a ride to my vaccine appointment. What are my options?
  • Mile High United Way’s Ride United program is providing access to free rides (up to 25 miles each way) to vaccination sites across Colorado. Dial 2-1-1 or visit 211colorado.org to learn more.
  • Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to vaccine provider locations. Use your smartphone to book a ride on the Uber and Lyft apps. 

 

I need help with child care while I get the vaccine or recover from side effects. What can I do?
  • Some child care centers offer free child care for people getting vaccinated.
  • Learning Care Group is offering free child care to help parents and caregivers get vaccinated and recuperate. Call (833) 459-3557 for more information.

 

I am unable to leave my home to get a vaccine. Can I schedule an in-home vaccination visit? 
  • You can call 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926) and an agent can help you register for an in-home vaccination. The call line is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT and in multiple languages. If you are unable to make the call, a caregiver, family member, or friend can call on your behalf.
  • Know that arranging an in-home vaccination will take time to coordinate and the visit may be longer than if you got the vaccine through another site.

 

What should I do if I’m asked to pay for the vaccine?
  • The vaccine is free. Providers should not ask you to pay for the vaccine or other administrative costs, even if you don’t have health insurance. If you do have insurance, your provider may seek reimbursement from your health insurance company, but you should not be charged.
  • Providers are not allowed to turn you away, even if you don’t have health insurance. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance are required to cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • In the unlikely event that your provider requires payment for your vaccine appointment, you should ask questions about what you are being charged for and why. You should ask for an itemized bill or receipt from the provider and then seek reimbursement from your insurance company if you have one.
  • If a provider demands payment, you can report them by filling out the following form: covid19.colorado.gov/VaccineConcerns. You can also call 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Multiple languages are available. The call center will be closed on Nov. 25, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1 for the holidays.
  • If you encounter problems with your insurance company, you can contact the Division of Insurance by phone at 303-894-7490 or by email at DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
  • If someone is making you pay for a vaccine or a vaccine appointment, it may be a scam. You can report potential vaccine scams to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at stopfraudcolorado.gov.

 

How much of my personal information will I need to share to get the vaccine? 
  • Like other routine vaccinations, you will need to share some personal information with your vaccine provider when you get a COVID-19 vaccine. This may include your name, date of birth, and contact information. Your privacy is a top priority, and your information will not be used for anything other than vaccine distribution and follow-up information about the vaccine. 
  • For an example of a form you may be asked to fill out at your appointment, see the Colorado COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Administration Form. This form includes a field for your insurance card number if you have one, but you should not be required to fill it out.
  • Sharing your identity and some of your medical history ensures that the vaccine is administered safely, effectively, and responsibly. Your individual immunization records are confidential, personal medical information, and public health will never share them publicly. 
  • The state health department maintains the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS), a confidential, population-based, secure computerized system that collects and consolidates individual-level vaccine and exemption data for Coloradans of all ages from a variety of sources. Health care providers have limited access to CIIS based on their need to input and access data for their patients. 
  • Under Colorado law, you can choose to remove your immunization information from CIIS at any time. This is called an opt-out. 
  • The state health department submits daily, anonymous COVID-19 vaccine administration data to the CDC as required. The state worked to ensure that no personally identifiable information like your name or full address will be shared with CDC.  

 

Will I need government-issued identification to prove my age, address, or name?
  • No. You do not need a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport to get the vaccine. Some medical forms may have a field to enter your social security number, but you are not required to complete it.
  • If a provider is requiring you to show identification in order to get vaccinated, you can submit a report by filling out the following form: covid19.colorado.gov/VaccineConcerns. You can also call 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. Multiple languages are available.

 

Do I need to prove I have been vaccinated with my primary series in order to get an omicron dose?
  • No. Coloradans can self-attest to the completion of their primary series. No ID, insurance, or proof of previous vaccination is needed to receive an omicron dose.

 

Do I have to be a full-time resident of Colorado to get vaccinated?
  • No. You do not need to be a full-time resident of Colorado, nor of a particular Colorado county, to be vaccinated in Colorado. 

 

Should I take a test to see if I am infected before getting the vaccine?
  • No. The CDC does not recommend getting tested before getting the vaccine. If you do not have any symptoms and have not been recently exposed to COVID-19, there is no need to get a test before your vaccine appointment.

 

What happens if I get my second dose too early or late?
  • Try your best to get your second vaccine dose on the date recommended by your doctor or health care provider. Getting your second dose on time will maximize the vaccine’s effectiveness and help make sure you get protected from COVID-19 as soon as possible. However, it’s not harmful to get your second dose late. If you can’t get your second dose on time, you should get it as soon as you can.
  • You can also get your second dose up to four days early. This is called a grace period.

 

What happens if I get a different vaccine product for my second dose?
  • If you got Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, you should try to make sure your second dose is the same vaccine product as the first dose. Studies have shown that the vaccines are safe and work well when the same vaccine product is used for both doses. 
  • If you receive a different product for your second dose, you do not need to repeat the vaccination again with additional doses.
  • Children aged 6 months through 4 years who receive different vaccines for their first two doses should receive a third dose of either age-appropriate vaccine at least 8 weeks after the second dose.
  • If you received Johnson & Johnson for your first dose, you should receive a different vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna's omicron dose) for your second dose two months later. 
#FFFFFF


 

Vaccine side effects

#FFFFFF
What are the side effects of the vaccines? 
  • You may experience mild to moderate side effects after receiving the vaccine. Side effects typically go away on their own after a few days. The most commonly reported side effects are: 
    • Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site.
    • Pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection.
    • Fatigue.
    • Headache.
    • Muscle pain.
    • Chills.
    • Joint pain.
    • Nausea/vomiting.
    • Fever.
  • Different people may experience different side effects, even if they receive the same vaccine. 
  • These symptoms are normal and show that your body’s immune system is responding to a vaccine. Other routine vaccines, like the flu vaccine, have similar side effects.
  • If you experience discomfort after your first vaccine dose, it is very important that you still receive the recommended number of doses for the highest level of protection.
  • For in-depth information about the side effects of the vaccines, see the CDC’s report on the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the Novavax vaccine

 

I heard about people getting dizzy or fainting after receiving a vaccine. Is feeling dizzy or lightheaded a common side effect? 
  • Some people have reported experiencing dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint, rapid breathing, and sweating symptoms immediately following COVID-19 vaccines in several states, including Colorado. 
  • On April 7, 2021, 11 people reported symptoms like these at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Community Vaccination Site in Colorado. EMS transported two of the patients to the hospital for observation, and treated the other nine people with juice and water. The two patients transported to the hospital were released from the emergency department and were not admitted. Vaccinations at the site were temporarily paused, then resumed after public health found no cause for concern.
  • Feeling anxious or faint can be common when receiving any vaccination or going through any kind of medical procedure, like a blood draw. When you go to your vaccine appointment, bring a beverage and a snack or a friend or family member to help offer some reassurance. Let clinical staff know if you are feeling faint, as they may need to put your feet up temporarily or give you something to drink. Learn more about fainting after vaccination from the CDC. 
  • CDC, FDA, and other federal partners will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Learn more about the safety of vaccines.  

 

When should I seek medical care because of side effects?
  • If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.
  • In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain after getting the vaccine is normal. Contact your doctor or health care provider:
    • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours.
    • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days.

 

Are the side effects worse after the second or third dose?
  • The side effects after the second or third dose might be more intense or cause more discomfort than side effects after the first dose. In some cases, the side effects may be bad enough to interfere with your work and other normal daily activities for a day or two. 
  • Because the body has already responded to the vaccine, the second or third dose may cause a stronger immune response in your body. These side effects are expected and show that your body is continuing to build immunity. 
  • Under Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), you are entitled to paid sick leave from your employer to recover from side effects. 
  • If you are experiencing more intense side effects, stay well hydrated, rest, and consider  over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if they are normally safe for you to take).
  • Side effects are proof that your body is building immunity. Most people feel better within a day or two. 
  • Even if you experience discomfort from the vaccine, it is important that you receive all recommended doses for the highest level of protection.

 

If I have side effects like fever and chills after getting the vaccine, does that mean I am contagious? Do I need to isolate?
  • Side effects happen one to two days after receiving the vaccine. They can include fever, chills, headache, and fatigue. If you experience the expected side effects within one or two days of receiving a vaccine, it likely means that you are not contagious and do not need to isolate. 
  • The vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 disease. A COVID-19 vaccine can’t give you COVID-19. 
  • Cough, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell are not recognized side effects of the vaccine. These may be signs of COVID-19 infection (or another infection). If you feel any of these symptoms, begin isolating and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as you can.

 

Will getting vaccinated cause me to test positive for COVID-19?
  • No. Getting vaccinated won’t give you a positive test result. If you test positive shortly after being vaccinated, it’s likely that you caught COVID-19 before you were able to build immunity from the vaccine. Follow instructions on how to isolate until you feel better.
If I don't have side effects after getting a vaccine, is it still working?
  • Yes. Different people will respond differently to the vaccines. While many people will have side effects, some people will not. Even if you do not get side effects, the vaccine is likely working.

 

Can the vaccine cause an allergic reaction?
  • Although it is rare, the COVID-19 vaccines may cause mild allergic reactions in some people, like itching or rash. In extremely rare cases, some people may have a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis). If this occurs, vaccination providers will effectively and immediately treat the reaction.
  • The health care provider administering your vaccine will monitor you for any allergic reactions you may have after getting vaccinated. They will watch you for at least 15 minutes after the injection (or for 30 minutes if you have a history of anaphylaxis or if you have had an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a vaccine or injectable therapy). 
  • If you had a reaction following a vaccination, contact your health care provider. You can also submit a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
  • For more information, see CDC: What to Do If You Have an Allergic Reaction after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.

 

Should I get vaccinated if I’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past?
  • People with a history of severe allergic reactions to any ingredient of a COVID-19 vaccine should not receive that vaccine. For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s fact sheet (Moderna, PfizerJohnson & Johnson, or Novavax). None of the vaccines contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. 
  • Additionally, people who have had an immediate allergic reaction (within seconds or minutes) of any severity to previous doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, its components, or to polysorbate should not receive additional doses of the same vaccine.  
  • People who have had severe allergic reactions to other vaccines or injectable therapies in the past should use caution and talk with their health care provider before deciding whether to get vaccinated. 
  • People with a history of severe allergic reactions unrelated to any vaccine or injectable therapy should get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

What if I am injured by the vaccine? Will I have to pay my own medical bills? 
  • If you get a serious physical injury as a direct result of the COVID-19 vaccine, you can file a claim for medical expenses, lost employment income, and survivor death benefits with the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
  • You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to file a claim or receive benefits from the CICP if you qualify. 

 

What can I do if I can’t afford to take off work to get the vaccine or recover from side effects? 
  • Under Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), you are entitled to paid sick leave from your employer. Among other situations, the law requires employers to provide paid leave for employees who have an illness, injury, or health condition that prevents them from working. Paid sick leave must also be available if the employee is getting preventative care such as a vaccination. 
  • During a public health emergency, all employers, regardless of the size of the company, must immediately provide each employee additional paid leave. For example, employees who normally work 40 or more hours a week are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave. 
  • For more information about HFWA, please visit the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s website

 

Are there any serious side effects of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Serious side effects (also known as adverse events) are extremely rare. The federal government takes all reports of vaccine adverse events seriously. 
  • CDC uses many vaccine safety monitoring systems, including the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), to watch for adverse events after vaccination. VAERS is useful for quickly detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might signal a possible safety problem with a vaccine. 
  • VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event following vaccination, even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused a serious side effect. 

 

What serious side effects have been reported for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19, and the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
  • Serious side effects are extremely rare. There may be increased, but still rare, risks of an abnormal blood clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) in women under age 50 or a nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in men over age 50.
  • CDPHE has sent information to health care providers to inform them about how to identify and treat TTS and GBS in the very rare case they were to occur. 
  • Health care providers administering the vaccine and vaccine recipients or caregivers should review the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which have been revised to include information about the risk of these extremely rare syndromes.
  • People who have received the Janssen vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

 

Can someone else who received a COVID-19 vaccine shed any of the vaccine components and affect my menstrual cycle?
  • No. Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine cannot shed any parts of the vaccine. 
  • Many things can affect menstrual cycles, including stress, changes in monthly schedule, problems with sleep, and changes in diet or exercise. Infections may also affect the menstrual cycle.
#FFFFFF


 

Pregnancy, fertility, and COVID-19 vaccines

#FFFFFF
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
  • Yes. If you or your partner are trying to become pregnant now or want to have a child in the future, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. People who have received COVID-19 vaccines have gone on to get pregnant and have healthy babies.
  • A recent small study looked at sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination in 45 healthy men. Researchers found no significant changes in sperm characteristics after vaccination.
  • Please talk with your doctor for more information if you have any concerns.
  • For more information, visit the CDC’s website COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby

 

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant?
  • Yes. The best way to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. 
  • There is now more evidence than ever to show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people. The vaccines help keep you from getting sick. They won’t harm your baby.
  • For more information about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, visit the CDC’s website.
  • Additional actions you can take to protect yourself include wearing a mask in public, keeping your distance from people who don’t live with you, washing your hands frequently, and limiting gatherings. These precautions are especially important if you live in an area where COVID-19 is spreading widely.
Can I get the vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
  • Yes. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that lactating people who get the vaccine continue breastfeeding their babies after being vaccinated. 
  • Breast milk contains antibodies and other components that can boost babies’ immune systems and protect babies from getting sick. Research has shown that COVID-19 antibodies are present in breast milk. It is believed that antibodies created after vaccination may also transfer into breast milk and could provide some protection to the baby.
  • For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, see CDPHE’s Pregnancy and breastfeeding FAQ.
#FFFFFF


 

Vaccines for children and teens

#FFFFFF
Can children get the vaccine?
  • Yes, children as young as 6 months old can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • CDC authorized Pfizer and Modern's COVID-19 vaccines for people aged 6 months and older. The Novavax vaccine is authorized for people aged 12 years and older. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only authorized for adults aged 18 years and older.
  • For more information, visit CDPHE’s Vaccines for children and teens webpage.

 

How can I make a vaccine appointment for my child?
  • You can ask your child’s medical provider if they plan to offer COVID-19 vaccines in their office.
  • You can also find a vaccine appointment for your child at one of many vaccine clinics around the state.
  • Parents are encouraged to ask about getting up to date on their own vaccines when talking with their child’s health care provider about vaccination.

 

Is it safe for children to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Yes. Clinical trials and real-world data show that it is safe for children to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Millions of children have already safely been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Thousands of children and their families volunteered to make sure the vaccines for children under 5 years of age are safe and work well.
  • For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children and Teens

 

How well does the vaccine work for children? 
  • The vaccine works very well to prevent infection, serious illness, and death in children.
  • Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for younger children offered protection from infection in clinical trials, even during the omicron surge. This protection was as good as or better than the vaccines for older children and adults during omicron.
  • Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for younger children triggered the immune system to make antibodies in clinical trials. This immune response was similar to the response produced by COVID-19 vaccines in young adults. This immune response means it’s very likely the vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death in young children.
  • A CDC report from March 2022 showed that getting vaccinated with two doses was 73% to 94% effective at preventing COVID-related hospitalizations among children aged 5 to 17 years.
Do children get the same type of vaccine as adults?
  • It depends on their age. Children age 12 to 17 years get the same kind of vaccines as adults. 
  • Children aged 6 months through 11 years get smaller doses of the vaccines. These doses are tailored to make sure they are safe and effective for each age group.

 

Do children need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian at their vaccine appointments?
  • The state of Colorado does not require minors to be accompanied as long as parental consent is collected and shared prior to the appointment. This can be done through Colorado’s COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Administration Form (view in Spanish) or through the vaccine provider’s online scheduling system. The provider may also obtain consent by phone and document it in the patient’s record.
  • Some vaccine providers may require children age 12 to 17 to have a parent or guardian with them at their appointment. We recommend calling your provider ahead of time to check whether they require parental accompaniment.

 

What are the side effects of the vaccine for children? 
  • The side effects in children are similar to the side effects experienced by adults. They can include pain, swelling, and redness in the arm where the vaccine was given; tiredness; headache; soreness; chills; and fever. 
  • For children aged 3 years and younger, the most common side effects include pain where the vaccine was given, swollen lymph nodes, irritability or crying, sleepiness, and loss of appetite.
  • Side effects may be more common after the second dose, especially for children aged 4 years and older.
  • In clinical trials, children under 12 years tended to have milder side effects than teens and adults. 
  • Most side effects are mild and go away on their own after a day or two.

 

Will my child need multiple doses of the vaccine? 
  • Yes. All children need at least two doses of the vaccine. Be sure to schedule your child’s second dose when you bring them in for their first dose. 
  • The number and timing of doses depend on your child’s age, health conditions, and which vaccine they originally received. In general, children who receive Pfizer will need three doses and children who receive Moderna will need two doses. Immunocompromised children may need additional doses.
  • For more information about when to schedule your child’s vaccine doses, use our vaccine dose calculator.
#FFFFFF


 

Health concerns and the vaccine

#FFFFFF
Can I get the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?
  • Yes. Immunocompromised people should receive a COVID-19 vaccine if they have no contraindications or reason to believe that getting the vaccine would be harmful to them. Talk with your health care provider if you have additional questions.
  • People who have a moderately to severely compromised immune system and received an mRNA primary series should receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine, in their primary series, to make sure they have the highest level of protection against COVID-19. Studies show that some people who are immunocompromised don’t build adequate levels of protection after receiving two doses of mRNA vaccines.
  • More information can be found at CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People
  • None of the currently available vaccines contains the virus that causes COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.

 

Can I donate blood if I’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Yes. According to the American Red Cross and Vitalant, you can donate blood if you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, Modern, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, or AstraZeneca. You must be symptom-free and fever-free to donate blood. 
  • Check with your local blood center for additional information.

 

Do some people get blood clots after being vaccinated?
  • While it’s extremely rare, some people have developed a condition that leads to blood clots with low platelets after getting vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • This condition is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS. 
  • Women age 18 to 49 are at higher risk of TTS after being vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compared to other people. However, this risk is still extremely low. 
  • Although the condition is rare, current evidence suggests a causal association between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and TTS. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines don’t have this risk.
  • Because of this, the J&J vaccine is now only authorized for some people: people who can’t get Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax for medical or accessibility reasons, or people who choose J&J because they otherwise would remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.
  • CDPHE has sent information to health care providers about how to identify and treat TTS.
  • If you get a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of getting vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, seek medical care immediately.
  • For more information about TTS and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, visit CDC’s website
Do some people get nervous system disorders after getting vaccinated?
  • While it’s extremely rare, some people may have had a nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after being vaccinated with the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. CDC and FDA are monitoring reports of this condition after vaccination.
  • GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage.
  • Men over age 50 are at higher risk of getting GBS after being vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine compared to other people. However, this risk is still very low. 
  • CDC and CDPHE recommend getting the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccine instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if possible. People who can’t or don’t want to get the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccine should still get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • For more information about GBS and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, visit CDC’s website.

 

Do younger people get heart symptoms after getting vaccinated?
  • It’s possible, but extremely rare, for people to get conditions called myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. 
  • Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or another trigger.
  • Very few people get myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination, and most cases of these conditions are mild. People often recover on their own or with minimal treatment. 
  • These cases have occurred after vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax, especially in male adolescents and young adults. They occur more often after the second dose and usually within several days after vaccination.
  • Some people, especially boys and men age 12 to 39 aged 12 to 39 years, may receive their second dose of the vaccine up to eight weeks after their first dose to help further reduce the low risk of myocarditis.
  • Compared to the very low risks of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination, people who are infected with COVID-19 are much more likely to develop these conditions. The conditions may be more severe in people who get infected as well. 
  • Scientists have reviewed reports of these conditions and decided that the benefits of the vaccine are greater than the risks. CDPHE and CDC continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older.
  • For more information about heart symptoms after vaccination, visit CDC’s website.
#FFFFFF


 

How COVID-19 vaccines work

#FFFFFF
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
  • No. None of the currently authorized vaccines contain the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
  • The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine contains a modified adenovirus, a different, harmless virus, but this virus cannot replicate itself or make you sick.
  • The Novavax vaccine contains small pieces of the COVID-19 virus, but these pieces on their own cannot replicate themselves or make you sick.

 

What’s the difference between an mRNA vaccine, a viral vector vaccine, and a protein-based vaccine?
  • Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Novavax’s vaccine is a protein-based vaccine.
  • All three COVID-19 vaccines teach your body how to fight spike proteins like the ones that cover the COVID-19 virus. If you are exposed to COVID-19 after vaccination, your body will recognize the spike proteins and remember how to fight them before the virus makes you sick.
  • Viral vector vaccines, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, use a piece of double-stranded DNA to teach your body how to make spike proteins and then fight them. 
  • mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, use single-stranded mRNA to teach your body how to make and fight spike proteins.
  • The Novavax vaccine contains a very small amount of spike protein taken directly from the COVID-19 virus. It also contains an ingredient called an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system. The protein and the adjuvant work together to teach your immune system how to recognize and fight COVID-19. The Novavax vaccine does not use any genetic material.
  • The goal of every COVID-19 vaccine is the same. They just use different strategies to achieve that goal.

 

How do mRNA vaccines work? 
  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines. These vaccines help our bodies build an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. The mRNA vaccines use temporary genetic code called mRNA to teach our cells how to make a harmless spike protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. After our cells temporarily make copies of the protein, our immune system recognizes that the protein should not be in our body and builds antibodies to remember how to fight the virus if we are infected in the future. 
  • An antibody is a protein produced by your immune system that can recognize a specific type of virus in your body. When you get exposed, your body’s antibodies are able to recognize proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus to attack and stop it from replicating in your body.
  • For a visual explanation of how mRNA vaccines work, watch Stat’s video “What are mRNA vaccines?”
  • To learn more, visit CDC’s Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

 

How do viral vector vaccines work?
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Like mRNA vaccines, viral vector vaccines help our bodies build an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. Viral vector vaccines temporarily teach our cells how to make a harmless spike protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  • While mRNA vaccines use single-stranded genetic code called mRNA to write down instructions for this protein, viral vector vaccines use double-stranded DNA. Scientists put this DNA into a different virus called Adenovirus 26. Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause colds or flu-like symptoms. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified adenovirus that can give your cells instructions about how to make spike proteins. This adenovirus can’t make you sick.
  • After our cells temporarily make copies of the protein, our immune system recognizes that the protein should not be in our body and builds antibodies to remember how to fight the virus if we are exposed in the future. 
  • An antibody is a protein produced by your immune system that can recognize a specific type of virus in your body. When you get exposed, your body’s antibodies are able to recognize proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus to attack and stop it from replicating in your body.
  • To learn more, visit CDC’s Understanding Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines.

 

How do protein-based vaccines work?
  • The Novavax vaccine is a protein-based vaccine. It contains a very small amount of spike protein taken directly from the COVID-19 virus. It also contains an ingredient called an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system. The protein and the adjuvant work together to teach your immune system how to recognize and fight COVID-19.
  • FDA-approved protein-based vaccines have been used widely for decades to prevent other diseases. The hepatitis B and shingles vaccines are both protein-based.
Can COVID-19 vaccines change my genes? 
  • No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines can change your body’s genes.
  • While mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines use temporary genetic code to teach your body how to fight COVID-19, that genetic code does not stay in your body after your immune system has learned how to protect you from the virus.

 

Do any of the vaccines contain harmful ingredients?
  • Today’s vaccines use only the ingredients they need to be as safe and effective as possible. Each ingredient in a vaccine serves a specific purpose: provide immunity (protection) and keep the vaccine safe and long-lasting.
  • All vaccines contain antigens or elements that trigger the production of antigens. Antigens make vaccines work. They help the body create the immune response needed to protect against infection. Antigens come in several forms. The form used in a vaccine is chosen because studies show it is the best way to protect against a particular infection. 
  • Other ingredients in vaccines may include preservatives, to keep germs out; adjuvants, to help boost the immune response to the vaccine; and additives, which help the vaccine stay effective while being stored. Each ingredient has a specific function and has been rigorously studied. These ingredients are safe for humans in the amounts used in vaccines.
  • For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s fact sheet (Moderna, PfizerJohnson & Johnson, or Novavax). 

 

Do any of the vaccines contain ingredients that would be prohibited by my faith?
  • Johnson & Johnson's vaccine includes ethanol, a form of alcohol, as an inactive ingredient.
  • None of the currently authorized vaccines contain human cells or tissue. However, some human cell lines were used in the production of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna used human cell lines to test their vaccines.
    • Human cell lines are sometimes used in the early stages of vaccine development because viruses from which those vaccines are made need living cells to reproduce. These cell lines originally came from fetal tissue more than 30 years ago. None of the original tissue remains today: all descended cells are grown in labs. No new fetal tissue is required in the ongoing development and production of vaccines.
    • As with all viral vector vaccines, multiple purification steps ensure that cells are not in the final vaccine product.
    • For more information about human cell lines, please see the College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s webpage Human Cell Strains in Vaccine Development.
  • No human cell lines were used in the development, manufacture, or production of Novavax.
  • For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s fact sheet (Moderna, PfizerJohnson & Johnson, or Novavax). 
  • If you have ethical concerns about the vaccines, we encourage you to talk to your faith leaders about them.
     
#FFFFFF


 

Vaccine safety

For additional information, visit CDC's webpage on vaccine safety.

#FFFFFF
How do we know that the vaccines are safe?
  • All authorized COVID-19 vaccines are going through the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. 
  • Hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have safely received a vaccine and are now protected from COVID-19.
  • The FDA requires vaccines to go through a rigorous scientific process before they become available to the public. The COVID-19 vaccines are held to the same safety standards as other vaccines. Tens of thousands of people volunteered in scientific trials to help make sure the vaccines are safe and work well.

 

How were the vaccines developed so quickly? 
  • Because COVID-19 is a global emergency, medical researchers around the world worked as hard as they could to create vaccines that would save people’s lives.
  • In developing a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers had to work quickly, but not at the risk of anyone’s safety. Researchers did not cut any corners or skip any steps. Safety and effectiveness were the top priorities. 
  • The timeline for developing COVID-19 vaccines was possible for several reasons: 
    • Researchers relied on years of previous research in other viruses and vaccines to help develop COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 is similar in some ways to other viruses, so scientists already had some information about how the virus behaves and how to fight it. They didn’t have to start from scratch.
    • Everyone involved dedicated all their resources and time to developing a COVID-19 vaccine. This includes research institutions, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and pharmaceutical companies. 
    • Many governments around the world, including the U.S. government, and private funders invested in the vaccine. This allowed pharmaceutical companies to focus on research right away. 
    • Because of the emergency presented by the pandemic, researchers developed the vaccines on parallel tracks, meaning that they completed the necessary steps at the same time or with some overlap. No steps were skipped in the process of developing the COVID-19 vaccines. 

 

Did the omicron doses go through the same authorization process as the original formulations of the COVID-19 vaccines?
  • The updated omicron vaccines use the same technology as the mRNA vaccines that hundreds of millions of people have safely received. Researchers used their existing knowledge of mRNA vaccines to make slight adjustments that would improve the vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant.

  • Because the omicron doses are slightly altered versions of previously approved vaccines, they did not have to go through the same clinical trials as the original formulations before becoming available to the public. 

  • The process that the omicron doses went through is very similar to the process that the flu vaccine goes through every year to make sure it targets the most current version of the flu virus. Like flu vaccines, the omicron doses are safe and work to protect you from the variant of the virus that is currently circulating in the United States.

 

Is it safe for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Yes. Children aged 6 months and older are recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Vaccines for younger children work the same way as vaccines for older children and adults. But the dose is smaller to make sure it’s safe and gives the best possible protection for each age group. 
  • Thousands of children and their families volunteered to make sure the vaccines for kids are safe and work well. Thanks to their help, more families can make the choice to get protected now, too.
  • Side effects for children are about the same as for adults.
  • For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens.  

 

Who approves vaccines in the United States? 
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses and approves the use of vaccines. Before the FDA approves a vaccine, the manufacturer must do rigorous research and testing to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The FDA independently reviews and verifies the information from these tests. It then decides whether the vaccine can be authorized and given to the public. 
  • In certain emergency situations, the FDA may issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to provide more timely access to critical medical products when there are no other options available. 

 

How are the vaccines tested? 
  • All new vaccines must go through a detailed scientific evaluation before they can be submitted to the FDA for approval. Each phase of the evaluation includes three different clinical research studies. In the clinical research study or trial, people volunteer to be part of the study. Each clinical trial emphasizes safety of the vaccine on people. As the research moves through to the next phase, the group of volunteers becomes bigger to include more diversity in people and circumstances.
    • Phase 1 involves 20 to 100 healthy volunteers to evaluate safety and common side effects of the vaccine.
    • Phase 2 involves several hundred volunteers to gather information on safety, vaccine dosing, and ability to stimulate an immune response.
    • Phase 3 involves several thousand volunteers and a longer time frame than the earlier studies. Along with safety and side effects, most Phase 3 studies focus on efficacy -- how well the vaccine works in clinical trials -- and compare people who have received the vaccine to those who receive a placebo (a shot without the real vaccine).  During these studies, neither the participants nor the study managers know who received the vaccine and who received the placebo until the end of the study. This phase provides the firmest scientific evidence possible showing the difference between people who have been vaccinated and people who have not been vaccinated for both safety and effectiveness.

 

Who are the volunteers in vaccine trials? 
  • People volunteer to take part in clinical research studies. All study volunteers must go through a process called informed consent that ensures they understand all of the risks and benefits of being in a study. Those volunteers are reminded that they may leave a study at any time without losing any of their rights or benefits. 
  • Each clinical trial emphasizes the safety of the vaccine on people. As the research moves through to the next phase, the group of volunteers becomes bigger to include more diversity in people and circumstances. 
  • A diverse group of people volunteered to participate in every phase of the clinical trials, including populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to generations of systemic inequities. For example, in Pfizer’s clinical trials, about 42% of volunteers identified as Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a, or Native American. About 37% of volunteers for Moderna’s trials identified as Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a, or other.
What happens after clinical trials are finished?
  • Once the clinical trials show that the vaccine is safe and effective, the manufacturer applies to the FDA to license the vaccine so that the general population can receive it. 
  • The FDA looks at all of the data from the trials using rigorous protocols and procedures. The vaccine is not authorized or approved until the FDA can make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.
  • In emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines can be authorized through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). This helps the vaccine get to people who need it faster. After the vaccine is authorized, the manufacturer keeps gathering data on how safe it is and how well it works.

 

Who else reviews the safety and effectiveness data from the clinical trials? 
  • For each vaccine authorized by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) carefully reviews all available data about the vaccine from clinical trials and other studies and makes recommendations for vaccine use in the general public. Recommendations include groups that should and should not receive the vaccine, as well as the timing, volume, number, and spacing of doses in a vaccine series. 
  • The ACIP is an independent advisory committee that provides guidance on the best use of vaccines to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
  • Once ACIP recommendations have been reviewed and approved by the CDC and HHS, they are published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The MMWR publication represents the final and official CDC recommendations for immunization of the U.S. population.

 

How is vaccine safety monitored once the vaccine is approved or authorized? 
  • The FDA and CDC closely monitor vaccine safety after the public begins using the vaccine. Both agencies have systems in place to keep an eye on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about the different vaccine safety monitoring systems: 
    • CDC’s V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine recipients can opt-in to receive text messages and web surveys from CDC on how to report health problems following COVID-19 vaccination. The system will also provide telephone follow-up to anyone who reports medically significant adverse events. The report will be submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) while keeping patient identity confidential. V-safe is now available in English, Korean, simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 
    • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) - VAERS is an early-warning system that collects and analyzes reports of any problems that happen after vaccination. Anyone can submit a report, including parents, patients, and health care professionals.
    • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) - VSD is a collaboration between CDC and several health care organizations to monitor vaccine safety. The system analyzes healthcare information for over 24 million people to conduct studies about rare and serious adverse events after immunization. 
    • Post-licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring (PRISM) - PRISM is the FDA’s immunization safety monitoring program. PRISM actively monitors the safety of medical products using electronic health information from over 190 million people. 
    • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project (CISA) - CISA is a collaboration between CDC and seven medical research centers to answer complex safety questions. CISA conducts clinical research studies to further understand vaccine safety and recommend prevention strategies for adverse events following immunization.
  • Vaccine recommendations may change if safety monitoring reveals new information about vaccine risks, such as a new serious side effect. The CDC, with the help of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will send safety alerts to health care providers. If necessary, the federal government may remove a vaccine from the market.

 

Can the vaccines cause death? 
  • It’s possible, but incredibly rare for a COVID-19 vaccine to cause death. More than 579 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States. CDC found nine deaths have been caused by COVID-19 vaccination.
  • COVID-19 is much more likely to cause death than any COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC, FDA, and CDPHE recommend getting vaccinated as the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19.
  • A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link between deaths and COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • CDC uses the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to closely monitor reports of death following COVID-19 vaccination. More than 579 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 9, 2022. During this time, VAERS received 14,596 reports of death (0.0025%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Reports of death after vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death. There are deaths every day from a variety of causes.
  • CDC follows up on any report of death to ask for more information. They use this information to learn more about what happened and to find out whether the death had something to do with the vaccine.
  • While it’s very rare, some people have developed a condition that leads to blood clots with low platelets after getting vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This condition is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS. In extremely rare cases, TTS can cause death.
  • As of May 6, 2022, more than 18 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the United States. CDC and FDA identified 60 people who got the J&J vaccine and later developed TTS. VAERS reports have identified nine deaths that have been caused by or were directly attributed to TTS following J&J vaccination. 
  • Because of this, the J&J vaccine is now only authorized for people who can’t get Pfizer or Moderna for medical or accessibility reasons, or people who otherwise would remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.
  • CDC, FDA, and other federal partners will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Find out more on CDC’s Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination
#FFFFFF


 

COVID-19 immunity and protecting others after getting the vaccine

#FFFFFF
When will I be protected after I get the vaccine?
  • It takes two weeks after you’ve received your last required dose for your body to fully  protect itself.
  • People who are fully vaccinated may become infected with COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated people are much more likely to have mild cases of COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 variants

 

Isn’t natural immunity from having COVID-19 better than getting a vaccine?
  • In order to get natural immunity, you would have to become infected with COVID-19, which can come with many serious risks and complications. Getting the vaccine gives you protection without the risks of getting sick.
  • Natural immunity varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Because this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence—based on a small sample size of people—seems to suggest that natural immunity may only last a few months in some people.

 

If I get vaccinated, is it possible for me to still get a milder form of COVID-19 than if I hadn’t been vaccinated?
  • Yes. Because the vaccines are not 100% effective, some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may still get sick. However, the risk of getting sick -- especially severely sick -- is much lower if you are vaccinated.

 

Why should I get vaccinated if I might get sick anyway?
  • While no vaccine is 100% effective, getting vaccinated greatly reduces your risk of COVID-19.
  • If you do get sick after being vaccinated, it is much less likely that your symptoms will be severe or that you will need to be hospitalized.The vaccines also greatly reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.
  • Based on the data, scientists believe that vaccinated people are much less likely to spread COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect you, but helps keep your family and community healthy as well.
Do I need to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 once I am vaccinated? 
  • CDC and CDPHE no longer recommend quarantine for people who have been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. However, CDC recommends that people who have been exposed still take precautions to protect others, such as masking around others for 10 full days and getting tested at least five full days after exposure.

  • Watch for symptoms in the 10 days after exposure. Get tested immediately if you start to feel symptoms. If you test positive, you will need to isolate

 

Do I need to isolate if I develop COVID-19-like symptoms after I have been vaccinated?
  • Yes. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any time, you should isolate and get tested for COVID-19.  You should isolate and get tested even if you are fully up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.

  • If you feel symptoms like fever, chills, soreness, headache, and fatigue within a day or two of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you are likely experiencing vaccine side effects. You do not need to isolate while you are feeling these side effects

  • Cough, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell are not recognized side effects of the vaccine. These may be signs of COVID-19 infection (or another infection). If you feel any of these symptoms after getting vaccinated, you should begin isolation and get tested for COVID-19.

  • Learn more about vaccine side effects in this FAQ.

#FFFFFF


 

Vaccine laws and regulations

#FFFFFF
Will I be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • You may be required as a condition of employment for some employers. But generally, employment aside, no, you aren’t required to get vaccinated at this time. 

 

Can a business check my vaccination status before allowing me onto the property?
  • Yes. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not apply to businesses like retail stores and restaurants because these businesses do not engage in any form of health care activity. It is not a violation of any federal or state law for a business to ask customers about their vaccination status. Customers may voluntarily share this information with a business if they choose to do so. A business may require public health measures (e.g. mask-wearing) if a customer chooses not to share their vaccination status.  
  • The state public health department, which maintains the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS), does not share a person’s protected health information, such as their COVID-19 vaccination status, with any business. Individuals may choose whether to share their vaccination status with others.

 

How will I know if others are vaccinated without compromising their personal health information?
  • Every Coloradan’s immunization records are confidential, personal medical information that will never be shared publicly. The state will report information on the total number of residents who have been vaccinated in Colorado, but this data will not be attached to any individual’s personally identifying information.
  • The state health department maintains the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS), a confidential, population-based, secure computerized system that collects and consolidates individual-level vaccine and exemption data for Coloradans of all ages from a variety of sources.
  • Under Colorado law, you can choose to remove your immunization information from CIIS at any time. This is called an opt-out.
Can I get an exemption from my employer’s vaccine mandate? 

 

Can public and private colleges and universities mandate COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty and/or staff? 
  • Yes, they can. Questions regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements for students, faculty and/or staff should be directed to the specific college or university. 

 

What should I do if I lose my vaccine card?
#FFFFFF


 

Emergency Use Authorization

#FFFFFF
I heard several COVID-19 vaccines were approved for Emergency Use Authorization. What does that mean? 
  • In certain emergency situations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may issue an Emergency Use Authorization to provide more timely access to critical medicines when there are no other options available. An Emergency Use Authorization permits the FDA to allow medical products that have met certain criteria, to treat, diagnose, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases to be used.
  • Watch this short video from the FDA about Emergency Use Authorization.

 

Why do EUAs exist?
  • EUAs were initially introduced in 2004 to prepare for bioterrorism attacks. Under an EUA, the government is able to authorize medical treatments and products in the event of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) attack.

 

Is it common for vaccines to be authorized under an EUA? 
  • Besides the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, the only vaccine that has been authorized under an EUA so far was an anthrax vaccine in 2005. This vaccine was given to certain military personnel who were at heightened risk of exposure to anthrax.
What is the criteria for an EUA? 
  • The FDA may issue an EUA for a medical product if it meets the following criteria:
    • The disease or CBRN agent in question can cause a serious or life-threatening illness or condition. 
    • There is reasonable belief, after looking at all the scientific evidence, that the product may be effective for its intended use. The phrase “may be effective” lowers the standards for scientific evidence typically required for FDA approvals.
    • The known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks. The FDA will look at all available scientific evidence to determine the risk and benefits of a product. 
    • There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product.

 

Besides the COVID-19 vaccines, when have EUAs been issued in the past?
  • Although not common, EUAs have been issued multiple times in the past for tests, treatments, and medical equipment.  
    • In 2009, EUAs were issued for diagnostic tests, personal protection equipment, and certain antiviral drugs during the H1N1 Swine Influenza pandemic.  
    • In 2013, EUAs were issued for diagnostic tests related to H7N9 influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). 
    • Several EUAs have already been issued for some COVID-19 tests and treatments, for example the antiviral medication remdesivir (recently approved), convalescent plasma, and multiple COVID-19 tests.